The flash floods brought on by the tropical storms following Hurricane Irene added insult to injury in Vermont. Seven hundred homes reported damage before the post-Irene flash floods, that number is expected to rise as the waters recede. Barn and land damage tallies in Vermont are also growing. Many low lying farms, already compromised by the floods of Irene were threatened, damaged, and even destroyed by the subsequent flash flooding.
The unprecedented floods took over Vermont farm fields at peak season. A story on VPR yesterday put the farm loss estimate in the “several million dollars” range. Thousands of acres of corn (for feed and for people) were inundated, hundreds of acres of soybeans were flooded, 75 farms in Washington and Chittenden Counties alone have reported losses – some minor, others catastrophic. And it is still raining today.
According to Chuck Ross, the Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, “If it’s been underwater, you can’t use it.” The FDA spells it out in more detail:
“If the edible portion of a crop is exposed to flood waters, it is considered adulterated and should not enter human food channels. There is no practical method of reconditioning the edible portion of a crop that will provide a reasonable assurance of human food safety. Therefore, the FDA recommends that these crops be disposed of in a manner that ensures they are kept separate from crops that have not been flood damaged to avoid adulterating “clean” crops.”
For those farms affected by the floods, a stream of services and support follows the destruction.
- Vermont Community Foundation
- Northeast Organic farmers Association (NOFA)
- Farm First Program
- Vermont Farm Service Agency
- Vermont Economic Development Agency
- The Center for an Agricultural Economy
NOFA lists the following potential sources of funds:
- Financial Resources for Farmers Fact Sheet (PDF)
- NOFA Vermont Farmer Emergency Fund
- Farm Service Agency Emergency Loans
- Other FSA Disaster Assistance Programs
- Mad River Valley Community Fund
- Vermont Economic Development Authority
- Small Business Administration (loans available to farm-related business, producer co-ops, and non-profits, but not farmers directly)
For those unaffected by the floods, NOFA recommends: If you know a farmer who has been impacted, volunteer to help muck out their barn, pull up downed fence, bring in flooded produce, or even make dinner. If you don’t know any farmers personally but would like to volunteer, try listing with #VTResponse.